Health-related issues are a common matter of concern among all domestic animals, and dogs are not an exception to this rule. In most cases, genetic modifications resulting in new breeds cannot help to overcome the challenge of diseases. Instead, it is essential to point to the fact that most purebred dogs are exposed to higher risks of diseases, including inherited ones, compared to non-purebred. Still, some diseases are not associated with a breed but are common for all dogs regardless of their size and age. Therefore, the paper at hand aims at investigating two common canine diseases – hip dysplasia and canine parvovirus.
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Hip dysplasia is a common health issue among dogs. It is commonly connected to the high costs of treatment and the impaired welfare of an animal. This disease is not one particular breed that is prone to developing, which means that all dogs are exposed to this risk. Still, larger dogs are more susceptible to it compared to smaller ones because of common abnormalities in the growth of joints and bones. Hip dysplasia varies from mild to severe forms of the disease that stand for diverse influences on animal’s health, comfort, and the ability to move (Oberbauer et al. 2).
Hip dysplasia is a complex disorder. It can be either inhabited in its nature or caused by some environmental factors. In the case of the inhabited hip dysplasia, the disease is related to genetic changes (Oberbauer et al. 2). As for the environmental factors leading to the concern, they include but are not limited to injuries, ligament raptures, overweight conditions, and even neutering dogs regardless of their sex (Oberbauer et al. 17). In most cases, it is the combination of two causes that leads to hip dysplasia. It means that in case of avoiding some environmental factors or activities, genetic changes alone do not entail severe health-related consequences. At the same time, hip dysplasia can be caused by some specificities of a puppy’s development. For instance, the excess of some vitamins (calcium and vitamin C) leads to rapid growth that, in turn, entails unforeseen changes in joints. The same is true about over-nutrition (Oberbauer et al. 2).
Hip dysplasia is characterized by hip joint laxity that results in abnormal joint activity. This condition commonly leads to the deformation of the femur head or acetabulum (see Figure 1). In some cases, there are deformations of the two (Sánchez-Molano 134). Therefore, dog’s movements become even more anomalous that leads to more severe changes in joints and health-related consequences (Sánchez-Molano 135).
Commonly, symptoms progress in young dogs (before 18 months). However, in the case of mild forms, hip dysplasia remains asymptomatic. It means that signs are witnessed later when the disease becomes more severe because of the further joint deformations. Hip joint pain is another common sign of hip dysplasia. Other symptoms of hip dysplasia include lameness, difficulties in or inability to extend joints, and impaired movements, especially on uneven surfaces (Oberbauer et al. 2).
Treatment of hip dysplasia is complex and costly. It varies from drug treatment to surgical interventions. Conservative management comes down to giving anti-inflammatory and non-steroidal drugs in order to relieve pain and reduce discomfort connected to the disease. Still, this treatment is efficient in case of mild forms of hip dysplasia, which can as well be addressed by light exercises, such as swimming or slow running. In the most severe cases, surgical intervention is advisable. It varies from pelvic and iliac osteotomy to replacing a total hip with an implant (Schachner and Lopez 185). Sometimes, only parts of joints are replaced. There are as well some exotic ways to treat hip dysplasia, such as acupuncture and implantation of gold beads (Schachner and Lopez 185).
Due to the complexity of the disease, management and prevention are as well complicated. Nevertheless, there are some effective measures for preventing hip dysplasia. First and foremost, because large dogs are more exposed to risks of dysplasia, it is advisable to control their body weight and intake of vitamins and minerals with food so that rapid growth is avoided. The focus is made on preserving healthy body weight. However, it is a lifelong strategy (Schachner and Lopez 187). More than that, in some cases, including some products in the diet, such as fish oil and mussels, is as well recommended because of their positive influence of joints. In addition, intramuscular administration is one of the ways to prevent the development of the disease. However, it is efficient for avoiding severe forms of hip dysplasia. Moreover, polysulfated glycosaminoglycan injections are reported as effective for the prevention and management of hip dysplasia (Schachner and Lopez 186). Finally, long-term genomic selection and further genetic experiments are seen as a modern method for preventing this disease from the perspective of minimizing inherited predisposition to hip dysplasia (Schachner and Lopez 190; Stock et al. 128).
Canine parvovirus is a common infection among dogs. It is critical due to the severe consequences of the diseases that often include gastroenteritis, myocarditis or even death of a dog. It is essential to note that there are different types of parvovirus. Varying across regions of the globe, the infection makes up a significant challenge to breeders and dog owners (Kaur et al. 1).
Canine parvovirus is commonly caused by canine parvovirus infection. This infection is complicated to avoid if dog breeders or owners fail to vaccinate a young puppy (commonly younger than 4 months). The major challenge is the fact that immune system of puppies is weak. It means that even though they receive some antibodies with mother’s milk, they are not enough for developing a robust immune system or are destroyed quickly so that coping with the infection is impossible. From this perspective, it is essential to pay special attention to factors, increasing risks of becoming infected. First and foremost, homeless dogs and puppies at animal shelters or breeding kennels are at higher risks of being infected due to the potential lack of care. In addition, according to a recent research, dogs in rural territories are more exposed to parvovirus because their owners either cannot afford to vaccinate them against the infection or are not aware of the criticality of this preventative step (Zourkas et al. 198). Puppies are infected upon contact with other unvaccinated dogs or sick wild animals (Sykes 141).
The signs and symptoms of parvovirus are not evident at once. It means that the virus is not active for some time after a puppy is infected because incubation period lasts for 4 to 14 days. Nevertheless, the symptoms are easy to recognize, even though they vary based on the immunity of a puppy and the environment it lives in – nutrition, crowding, etc. (Sykes 142). From this perspective, clinical signs of parvovirus are both mild and severe. Some of the mildest symptoms include vomiting, discomfort, and loss of energy and appetite. However, in more severe cases, weight loss, bloody diarrhea, fever, some neurologic signs (enteritis and myocarditis), and even sudden death (Sykes 142). Death is commonly connected to the failure of vital organs, such as heart, lungs, and kidneys and gastrointestinal tract issues.
Effective treatment of canine parvovirus involves several strategies. The first one is supporting an infected animal with fluid therapy. The rationale for this treatment is the fact that parvovirus is associated with severe dehydration so that intravenous fluid therapy is helpful for restoring balance. In this case, the central challenge is to keep catheters sterile in order to avoid other infections. Fluid therapy is commonly supplemented with antibiotic treatment. It is especially significant in case of severe symptoms and sepsis. To treat a dog, broad-spectrum antibiotics are prescribed. However, prescriptions differ based on the severity of clinical signs of the infection. For instance, in case of sepsis, treatment consists of not only broad-spectrum antibiotics but also those against anaerobic, gram-negative, and gram-positive organisms (Silverstein and Hopper 511). Finally, giving antiviral drugs is another strategy for treating dogs with parvovirus. However, this method is not universal because some antiviral drugs (interferon) are imported to the United States only under special permits although they are legal and easy to purchase in Europe and some Asian states.
Still, the steps mentioned above are the initial phases of treatment. In order to completely cope with the problem, it is critical to develop adequate nutrition regime in order to avoid further vomiting and make the immune system of a puppy more robust. That said, preference should be given to low-fat products that are easy to eat and digest. Moreover, the diet should be controlled. It means that dogs should be fed frequently, but the portions of food should be small. It is necessary for avoiding diarrhea and other undesirable consequences (Silverstein and Hopper 511).
Canine parvovirus is one of the easiest infections to prevent. Vaccination is the major way to prevent infection. However, it is critical to note that based on the initial immunity and condition a dog lives in, as well as the quality of a vaccine, in some cases, lifelong immunity is not guaranteed (Sykes 148). It means that in order to prevent undesired concerns, laboratory tests and screenings in case of witnessing clinical signs of parvovirus in adult dogs are advisable.
In addition, it is paramount to note that some pre-birth prevention measures are as well critical. For instance, isolating pregnant dogs, providing them with adequate cleaning and disinfection procedures, making sure that they do not contact with infected dogs, and are immunized is vital. At the same time, once puppies are born, they should be kept away from other dogs before they are given the first vaccine at age 3 to 4 weeks. More than that, vaccination is serial. It means that it is conducted three or four times before the dogs turn 16 months of age (four vaccinations are recommended in dog kennels and other crowded environments). Finally, a booster should be given when a puppy is 3 years old to guarantee that immune system is robust (Sykes 148).
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